The use of ethnography and structured observations in the study of risk factors for the transmission of diarrhea in highland Papua new guinea Academic Article uri icon


  • Methods that combine anthropological and epidemiological data are needed for the study of behavioral risk factors in communicable diseases, but as yet remain undeveloped. Ethnography is often undervalued as both the preliminary and integrative step in the design and execution of such studies. The analysis of critical methodological issues emerging from a case-control study of the behavioral and environmental risk factors for the transmission of childhood diarrhea in both urban and rural highland Papua New Guinea suggests that focused ethnographic assessments, complemented by structured observations performed by nonprofessionals, may provide a viable research design. In highland Papua New Guinea, significant risk factors include non-usage of latrines and sleeping with pigs; the latter is a factor that could have important implications regarding women's roles in a changing economy.

publication date

  • January 1993